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Timetables and travel
Our Railway's Future
Railway & Track
Our plans for winter
High speed rail
Reducing track noise
Railway Communications System
Winter weather can pose a real challenge to the railway - here's how we're working with new technology and equipment to keep lines open and trains running during the colder months.
High winds and saturated ground can be as big a problem as ice on the tracks or snowdrifts.
Accurate forecasts and live data help us focus our resources and keep key lines and stations open.
Ice build-up causes big problems for moving parts like points, which move trains from one track to another. Snow can get compacted into solid blocks of ice by passing trains causing points to become stuck.
Ice forms on rails in damp, cold conditions even without rain or snow. For safety reasons, sometimes we have to impose speed restrictions when tracks are icy.
In the South East, ice can build up on the conductor rail - the "third rail" – in places where trains stop (stations, junctions etc), preventing them drawing power.
Winter conditions affect trains too, with ice build-up causing many problems including jamming doors.
We've been working with train operators to modify rolling stock. Improvements include:
If it is windy and the snow forms drifts, it causes additional problems - trains cannot run if snow reaches around 30cm (12 inches) unless they’re fitted with snowploughs.
Heavy snow and wind cause branches to break off trees alongside the track, which can block the tracks or damage overhead wires.
When groundwater seeps through tunnel linings, it can form sheets of ice on the walls. These can be dislodged and damage passing trains.
Sometimes conditions are too extreme to continue running trains as normal. In severe circumstances we have plans in place to run reduced services and keep key lines open.
For tickets, train times, journey planning and refunds please call National Rail Enquiries:
08457 48 49 50
Or visit www.nationalrail.co.uk